Bad news for the sleep deprived: Lack of sleep makes you fat!

sleep deprived

“When we are sleep deprived our metabolism is low, so will not burn the excessive intake of fat we resort to.”

When we feel unrested or unfocused, more often than not we seek a quick fix to help us through the day; a coffee or a sweet treat to give us that boost we need. Little do we know, this fix is part of the process in which sleep and diet intertwine to leave us with unwanted pounds. Being sleep deprived is a bad habit. Poor sleep craves sugar which in turn promotes poor sleep!  This vicious cycle may seem hard to beat but there are ways to get your sleep pattern back on track.

Mark Mahowald,  MD, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center, stresses how the importance of sleep is drastically underestimated as part of a healthy lifestyle. He says we ‘brag about doing an all-nighter’, but don’t realize how much our body is paying for it. Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep explains that when we are sleep-deprived our metabolism is low, so will not burn the excessive intake of fat we resort to. We need 7.5 hours of good sleep to not crave the sugar we need to help us function during the day. Two hormones are prominent in connecting our sleep and food intake; ghrelin and leptin. The former tells us when to eat; we produce more when we are sleep deprived, whilst the latter tells us to stop eating, we have more of this when well-rested.

So how do we stop the sleep shortage sugar binge? The first thing to do is to practice sleep hygiene; evaluate the quality of your sleep- sleeping for a long period of time is not the same as sleeping well. If your quality is poor, cut out afternoon bouts of caffeine. This will promote deep sleep as caffeine has an after life of 8 hours, meaning that 4pm coffee is still working its magic when you’re tucked up in bed. Exercise can also help our sleeping pattern resume regularity, as long as it’s not straight before bed. Finally, do not eat late at night and choose a healthy diet. If hunger strikes, reach for healthy snacks so as not to disrupt the winding down of brain and body with sugar. Such habits should help improve sleep quality and maybe drop a few pounds in the process!


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